MainStreet Award



Directors' Choice Award Winner

| script | breakdown | synopsis |


Music Paul Alan Levi, Libretto by Toni Mergentime Levi


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A one-act opera

THANKSGIVING is a one-act, hour-long, serio-comic American opera. Set at a contemporary annual Thanksgiving dinner, the opera presents four generations of a family -- outwardly loving but deeply affected by feelings of jealousy, resentment, hurt and anger toward one another. As the action progresses from the guests ' arrival to cocktails to dinner, the characters’ inadvertent insults become progressively more direct and deliberate, culminating in a melee of hurled epithets and food, before the characters recall the evening 's purpose and reavow their ties in a hypocritical closing hymn.          

During the proceedings, characters periodically withdraw from the action to reveal themselves to the audience in arias and small ensembles. Thus the audience comes to understand these people and to perceive how contemporary American values have molded their personalities.  The opera emphasizes the frequently comic American mod e of maintaining appearances, regardless of the truth. This theme is reflected in the Thanksgiving ritual of love and generosity, as well as in the characters’ individual lives.

Originally intended for television, THANKSGIVING requires one living room/dining room set, contemporary costumes, 15 performers, and an orchestra of 25, including piano, harp and banjo. There are 12 singing roles of equal importance (6 men, 6 women), a non-singing actress and two non-singing children. The libretto attempts to capture the essence of American middle-class vernacular. The music, while underlining the uniquely American flavor of the lyrics, uses a broad spectrum of styles ranging from Berg to ragtime .  Much of the music is derived from the hymns "Old Hundredth" and "We Gather Together ." Among the set pieces are a drinking song, soft-shoe, prayer, twelve-part madrigal, commercial, chorale and excerpts from Grandma 's favorite old songs. The opera's three scenes flow into each other without pause.



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